Whether "Back-in-Town" or "Never-Left-to-Begin-With," the Fall 2011 FOSEL Season Resumes With Authors' Series, BPL Long-Term Strategic Planning Updates, Library Events, a New BPL Trustee (or Two), and, Yes, More Fundraising

Hurricanes came and went this summer, and some may visit yet belatedly, but the South End Library is still standing. Its programming, and best of all, Saturday hours from 10 to 2,, have resumed. Just before Labor Day, FOSEL  cleaned up and refurbished the gardens in the tree enclosures around the library. In addition, FOSEL also removed the debris left by Hurricane Irene in Library Park. One of the park's steady visitors, Orlando, spent two days assisting FOSEL bagging the trash and sweeping the pavement in and around the park. Thank you, Orlando. The South End Writes Author's Series, which last year hosted literary luminaries like Sue Miller, Henri Cole, Doug Bauer, film writer Alice Stone, and culinary authors Chris Kimball and Joanne Chang, will start afresh on Tuesday, September 27 at 6:30 PM. Award-winning fiction writer Lily King will read from the just-issued paperback version of her 2010 novel, Father of the Rain, set in a suburb on Boston's North Shore. Her previous novels include The Pleasing Hour (winner of the Barnes and Noble Discover Award), and The English Teacher (winner of the Maine Fiction Award). Father of the Rain has won the New England Book Award for Fiction and was listed as a New York Times Editor's Choice.

Boston Globe reporter Johnny Diaz will read from his fourth novel, Take the Lead, on Tuesday, October 4, 6:30 PM. Diaz's novels explore the lives of Latino gay men in urban venues such as Boston's South End and Miami, where Diaz was previously a reporter for The Miami Herald. At The Herald, he shared in the 2000 Pulitzer prize for the paper's coverage of the seizure by federal agents of Elian Gonzales, a young boy who had fled Cuba with his mother and her boyfriend, but whose father demanded his return to the island after the mother drowned during the escape. Diaz's earlier novels include Beantown Cubans, Miami Manhunt, and Boston Boys Club. Diaz wrote in an email that Take the Lead was partially inspired by an article he wrote for the Boston Globe about a physical therapy dance class for people who suffer from Parkinson's Disease. In the novel,  the dance class forms the background for the main character's coming to terms with the relationship with his father, who struggles with the illness, and his love affair with the dance instructor..

The BPL's efforts to create a workable Long-Term Strategic Plan will reach an important moment on Thursday, September 15 when the BPL trustees, at their public meeting, will receive a draft of the document outlining the BPL's modernization plan from the so-called Compass Strategic Planning Committee. The meeting will be held at Copley Library at 8:30 AM. The planning committee is chaired by South End's State Representative and BPL Trustee, Byron Rushing. Other members of the committee include BPL Trustees Carol Fulp and Zamawa Arenas, BPL President Amy E. Ryan, Executive Director of  Codman Academy Charter Public School Meg Campbell, Mayor Menino's Special Assistant Alice HennesseyMimi Jones of the Friends of Dudley Branch Library, private attorney  Ronaldo Rauseo-Ricupero and Pamela Seigle, Executive Director, Courage & Renewal Northeast at Wellesley College. The committee met several times during the summer and held a few "roundtables" at branch libraries, regrettably not well advertised through neighborhood associations or similar institutions, and too often held during the summer when many library patrons and supporters are away on vacation or visiting relatives. Nevertheless, the Compass Committee invites everyone to read the draft document and comment by email . FOSEL will report on the document in a later post on this web site.

Also on the BPL Trustee Agenda is the announcement of the resignation of long-time trustee Berthe M. Gaines, creating the second open seat on the nine-member library board. The other vacancy is the result of the retirement earlier this year of author and Boston Globe columnist James Carroll.. A library advocate who in the 1980s fought branch closures, Ms. Gaines had not attended trustee meetings for more than two years or expressed any public opinions about the BPL's recent trials and tribulations. Mayor Menino appoints trustees, but, in contrast with procedures in other library communities, the mayoral nominees have thus far not been asked by the City Council to demonstrate their ability for advocacy on behalf of libraries or library patrons, or their fundraising prowess, in a public forum such as city council hearings. The danger of pro-forma confirmation of library board nominees by the City Council became evident in the last few years when proposed budget cutbacks went unchallenged, BPL foundation fundraising collapsed for lack of inspired leadership and proposed  library closures endorsed by BPL trustees were only averted at the last minute after public outrage made closings politically unpalatable.

Overall South End Library programming will be posted separately, but FOSEL has agreed to sponsor two events for children in September and October. In addition, A FOSEL supporter has purchased a sewing machine for the library's craft program organized by children's librarian Margaret Gardner, who hopes to instruct young tailors and tailorettes in the art of the mechanical needle.

The FOSEL Fundraising Campaign begun earlier this year to collect money to have a handicapped-accessible door installed at the South End Library has not yet reached its goal. The FOSEL board is currently looking into next steps, and will post an update as soon as possible.

Welcome back and stay tuned....